Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Robin Hopper

Robin Hopper, Fluted Bowl, three coloured agate ware, (source)

Robin Hopper, Lidded Jar Faceted Three-Coloured agate ware, (source)
I really really want to take pottery classes from Robin Hopper. I think his works are alright- I love the agate ware he makes, to me they reference old china pottery- Wedgwood, and the early twentieth century fine china makers, and I love those references, but the rest of the pieces are sort of ho- hum to me). But what stands out about this guy is that he is so very knowledgeable about Ceramics. He wrote the book on glazes, and several other ceramic related things (literally). He doesn't just make pots, he explores them, and how they're made- his value is in the knowledge he holds about clay, not his conceptual vision as an artist.

One of the reasons that I love working with clay is that it requires an actual knowledge base, It's more than just creativity- and it's not easy to pick up, it requires study, and practice, and acquiring knowledge. It's as much a skill as it is an art- it's a fine craft, and it requires good craftsmanship- and I value that. For some artists the idea is the main thing- those artists don't care whether they make the art or a team of people carry out their ideas, to them the carrying out of it is secondary to the main concept.

I like a good concept too, but mostly I value workmanship, I value long hours trying many ideas that didn't work out to find the one sample that did work. I value lots of drawing and painting and building and planning, lots of practice, and lots of hours learning about your material or art.  Clay is different from conceptual art in that it requires that type of practice in order to make a good piece, you will be better at clay if you practice it, try it, study it, and sometimes, fail at it. But you're always stocking up your knowledge of your craft.

Making clay pieces feels that way to me in a way painting doesn't- it's a Craft. I don't mean the kind of craft where you glue pom poms to Popsicle sticks either, I mean traditional- apprentice at the age of 16, put in ten thousand hours, become a master, type of Craft.  Robin Hopper is that sort of potter, he's a Fine Craftsman, and I love that.

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